NFL anthem protest based on ignorance, false rhetoric


Tribune News Service

Many Buffalo Bills players kneel on the sidelines for the national anthem against the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 1, in Atlanta, Ga.

By Clint Cost, Columnist

Editor’s Note: This column erroneously reported information generalizing efforts by the Department of Justice to address police brutality. At the time of the protest’s infancy, former President Barack Obama ordered former Attorney General Loretta Lynch to use the Justice Department resources for thorough investigation of every killing committed by a police officer. Even though resistance from local law enforcement and other financial factors have hindered the overall effectiveness of President Obama’s order to investigate police departments. This information comes from Time.

We apologize for allowing this column to run without a source to back up claims. The Daily Illini regrets the error.

Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the national anthem during the 2016 NFL preseason, to protest what he believed to be the systemic oppression of racial minorities by the police.

Except the protest doesn’t really make sense.

Kaepernick believes the U.S. government is systemically oppressing minorities because he feels the criminal justice system allows police to use excessive violence without any consequence of action. The reality is quite different.

At the time of the protest’s infancy, former President Barack Obama ordered Attorney General Loretta Lynch to use the Justice Department resources to thoroughly investigate every killing committed by a police officer. Infamous cases of young minority men being killed in confrontations with the police, such as the Michael Brown case, were immediately investigated by federal authorities. Most of those cases concluded that the police were not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing.

Kaepernick was protesting something that was already being addressed. Now the question remains, what exactly is the end goal of this protest?

The protest was based on the idea that systemic racism was the reason officers were not charged with crimes; however, the Obama administration’s minority-led White House and Justice Department investigated the local police related killings and still decided the police were not guilty of murder, such as in the cases of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray.

The reality is that there is not an issue with police brutality in this country. It simply does not exist.

According to Washington Post’s live database, more unarmed whites have been killed by police in 2017 than blacks. But unarmed does not mean not dangerous — an unarmed individual can still threaten an officer’s life. 

For example, in the case of Michael Brown, he was unarmed but the criminal justice system determined through investigations and witness testimony that he attacked a police officer and attempted to take the officer’s weapon. Clearly this poses a lethal threat to the officer, making the officer’s choice to shoot justified.

While there are instances of police acting violently and unlawfully, these officers are put through the same exact criminal justice system as the offenders they put behind bars. If an officer is cleared of all charges, then any anger should be directed at the jurors who acquitted the officer, not the law enforcement system itself.

This Sunday, as players take a knee in support of the protest that Kaepernick pioneered, remember that their reasoning is built on false rhetoric and lies.

Clint is a senior in LAS.

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